Regarding recent moves by North Lanarkshire council to defund Women’s Aid services across the area, Dr Marsha Scott, Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, said: “We are appalled at the callous steps North Lanarkshire Council have taken in recent months that have pulled the rug out from under the feet of long-established, trusted Women’s Aid services. While Women’s Aid services were busy responding to COVID-19 to continue providing their vital support for women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse in North Lanarkshire, they were met with hostility in unnecessary, competitive tendering processes from North Lanarkshire Council that lacked both transparency and accountability.
“This did not have to happen and the result is that North Lanarkshire is now the only local authority area in Scotland that does not commission Women’s Aid services – a sad reflection of their complete lack of understanding of the complex nature of domestic abuse and an upsetting dismissal of decades of work by grass-roots, local Women’s Aid services who are trusted and respected within their communities.
“Women in Scotland have felt a disproportionate impact of COVID-19 – whether in unpaid care work, home schooling, job losses or homelessness. All of those impacts are compounded for women and children living with domestic abuse. It is incomprehensible to us that North Lanarkshire Council have taken the decisions they have, in the full knowledge that this will further disadvantage those women and children by disrupting their access to specialist support around domestic abuse. “We will continue to communicate with elected members about our concerns around the tender process, and we intend to publish those communications in due course. Given the severity of the situation, and the direct risk to the rights and protections of women and children experiencing domestic abuse, we are also carefully considering the legal options available to us.”
Background for editors
At an Education and Families Committee meeting on 23rd February 2021, North Lanarkshire Council decided to stop funding Women’s Aid services and instead fund a generic service provider. This followed an unnecessary and competitive tendering process which was lacking in scrutiny. This move affects Monklands Women’s Aid, Motherwell District Women’s Aid and North Lanarkshire Women’s Aid – three long established, trusted, specialist services. Due to other sources of funding, none of the groups will have to close their doors. However, their capacity will be affected by this decision and their continued reliance on short-term, precarious funding streams is a threat to the rights and safety of women, children and young people experiencing domestic abuse.
Scottish Women’s Aid continues to campaign for long-term, sustainable funding for specialist domestic abuse services.
Relevant documents on North Lanarkshire Council website here.
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